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that, as the reputed MESSIAH, he would revolt against it, like Judas of Galilee, and the zealots of his party, in the days of the taxing, Acts v. 37. Peter, knowing his Master's principles of obedience to the ruling powers, answered "yes," and went into the house to inform him. But JESUS prevented, or anticipated him, by a pertinent question: "What thinkest thou, Simon? From whom do the kings of the land take tribute, or census? From their own children, or from strangers? Peter answered, From strangers. JESUS saith unto him, Then are the children free. Thus intimating that as THE CHRIST, the SON OF GOD, the true sovereign of the land under the THEOCRACY, He and his disciples were exempt. "Nevertheless," proceeded he, "that we may not offend them, (Herod and Pontius Pilate,) Go thou to the sea, cast a hook, and take up the fish that riseth first, open his mouth, and thou shalt find a stater. That take, and give them (the publicans), for me and thee." This miracle is recorded only by Matthew, the publican, xvii. 24—27.
AMBITION OF THE DISCIPLES.
The distinguished favour which JESUS had lately shewn to Peter, James, and John, and the glorious scene of the Transfiguration, which they only had witnessed, seems to have awakened their ambition. This produced a debate among them, in the way to Capernaum, which of them should be greatest in the glorious kingdom, which they expected CHRIST would shortly establish, in which Peter, the most forward, and the bro
denarii, and the precise amount, therefore, of the tax for two persons, OUR LORD and Peter.
Why JESUS chose to pay it rather in this coin than in the Jewish or Roman, may perhaps be conjectured to have arisen from the description of "the stater, which on one side had Minerva's face, on the other her owl." See Hesychius, Art. IIaλλadoç πроσBut Pallas, or Minerva, was the heathen goddess of WISDOM, the spurious representative of OUR LORD himself. The stater, therefore, bore "his image," and He reclaimed it as his own coin.
It is strange how so respectable a commentator as Gilpin, in his New Testament, could so greatly undervalue this signal and most astonishing miracle, evincing that CHRIST was LORD of the creation, as to "rank it among those of the lowest class.-A miracle adapted to fishermen, which might tend greatly to increase their faith!"-Or thus fancifully and irreverently account for it: "It would be difficult to say how JESUS could with more propriety have obtained a supply; if he had created it on the spot, it might have had the appearance of a sort of legerdemain; or it might have laid him open to the accusation of counterfeiting the current coin of the country!" "The kings of the land" were "Herod and Pontius Pilate," Acts iv. 26, 27.
thers James and John, the most violent of the disciples, appear to have taken the lead, and from the ensuing application of their mother, that they should sit the one on his right hand, and the other on his left, in his kingdom, or be made his prime ministers, which excited the indignation of the rest, Matt. xx. 20-24, it is likely the contest was chiefly between them and Peter, for he was foremost to state the claims of the Disciples in general, and certainly did not undervalue his own in particular, Matt. xix. 17.
At first they had confined the dispute to themselves, and were silent, or ashamed to avow it, when JESUS enquired into the subject, and checked it, by saying, " If any of you wish to be chief, let him be last of all, and minister of all,” Mark ix. 33– 35, Luke ix. 46, 47.
Soon after it broke out afresh, and the whole set came to JESUS to decide the point, which of them should be greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
To correct their ambitious views in general, and instruct them by example, JESUS called to him a little child, and set him in the midst, beside himself, and said, "Unless ye be converted, and become as little children, [in their leading characteristics of humility, simplicity, innocency, and docility,] ye shall by no means enter into the kingdom of heaven." Thus sensibly illustrating to them the figurative nature of that "new birth," which he had more briefly stated to Nicodemus, as an indispensable requisite for admission; of which the principal ingredient was humility. "Whosoever, therefore, shall humble himself as this little child, he shall be greatest in the kingdom of heaven," Matt. xviii. 1-5, Mark ix. 36, 37, Luke ix. 47, 48.
He then repressed the officious zeal of John, who had forbidden an exorcist to cast out demons in the name of JESUS, because he was not of their company; by observing, that such a person must be a friend, and not an enemy. He that is not against us, is for us, Mark ix. 38-40, Luke ix. 49, 50.
This led him to warn them against offending one of the least of his disciples, by despising or ill-treating them. For 1. It would draw down on them the heaviest doom. 2. That the least were objects of God's care and compassion. 3. That his Apostles especially, were required to be converted, and to cast away their ruling passions, though dear to them as a right hand or a right eye, under pain of hell fire; because they were to be
the salt of the world, ordained to season it with their sound doctrines, and discipline it by their good examples, Matt. xviii. 6-14, Mark ix. 42—50.
He then proceeded to give them rules for their conduct towards offenders. 1. To admonish the offender prudently, in private; not to expose him. 2. If he would not listen to reason, to state the offence between two or three witnesses, and call on him for reparation. 3. If these gentle methods failed of converting him, then to complain to the church or congregation to which they belonged; and 4. If he refused to submit to the authority of the Church, then to hold no intercourse with him. Let him be unto thee as a heathen and a publican, Matt. xviii.
But if the offender repented, they were bound to forgive him heartily his trifling offences towards them, as they hoped for forgiveness of their heinous offences towards GOD, upon their sincere repentance; as illustrated in the parable of the debtors, the one who owed his lord the immense sum of ten thousand talents, the other, who owed his fellow-servant one hundred denarii, with which this interesting conversation concludes, Matt. xviii. 21-35.
In the parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard, hired at different hours of the day, and all paid alike their stated wages, our LORD appears to have resumed the subject, and to have given a further check to the pride of the first-called disciples, setting themselves above, and undervaluing the last-called; after he had informed the claimant, Peter, that the “ twelve Apostles in the regeneration, should sit on twelve thrones, judging, or instructing, the twelve tribes of Israel," Matt. xix. 28–30, xx. 1-16. This seems to be the chief drift of the parable; which is usually applied to the Jews, murmuring at the admission of the Gentiles into the Gospel covenant, but rather, perhaps, irrelevantly.
THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES.
Not yet believing the spiritual nature of his kingdom, his brethren, or kinsmen, who had, at the last, become his disciples, and expected promotion, not less than the rest, advised him to exhibit his miracles in Judea, as a more public theatre than the despised Galilee; but he rebuked them for their worldly mindedness and ostentation, and refused to accompany them to the
feast; but he afterwards followed them privately, and came to Jerusalem, in the middle of the festival week, and taught openly in the temple, John vii. 1-14.
Astonished at his doctrine, the unbelieving Jews said, "How understandeth this man learning, not having been educated?" JESUS answered, " My doctrine is not my own," or acquired by human education, "but His that sent me ;" for it is immediately inspired by GOD. "Whosoever is desirous to do his will," with an honest and good heart, "shall understand concerning my doctrine, whether it be from GOD, or whether I speak from myself;" for God will enlighten his mind to form a right judgment of its divine origin; as he had signified to them before, (John vi. 44, 45,) ver. 15, 18.
He then entered into a further vindication of the miracle of curing the cripple at Bethesda, on the Sabbath, which had given them so much " surprise," or offence, that they sought to kill him, at the second passover; by stating the case of circumcision, which they themselves performed on the sabbath day, in obedience to the law. "Why then," said he, are ye angry with me, for healing a man on the sabbath day? Judge not according to appearance, judge upright judgment," ver. 19-24.
Still the old objection returned, "We know this man whence he is, his birth-place and parentage; but when CHRIST cometh, none knoweth whence he is."
JESUS replied, “Do ye know me, and whence I am?" intimating the reverse. "Yet I am not come of myself, but HE that sent me is TRUE; whom ye know not. But I know HIM, because I am from Him; and He hath sent me. -Many then of the multitude believed on him, and said, When THE CHRIST cometh, will he do more miracles than this man hath done?" ver. 27-31.
Alarmed at his encreasing popularity, the Pharisees and chief priests sent officers to apprehend him. JESUS knowing this, intimated his approaching decease: "Yet a little while and I am with you; but I am about to withdraw unto the FATHER. Ye shall seek me, but shall not find me; for whither I go ye cannot come."
The Jews, not understanding this, said among themselves, "Whither is he going to depart, that we shall not find him? Is he going to depart to the dispersion of the Greeks, to teach the Greeks?"-or the Jewish colonies, settled in Pontus, Gala
tia, Cappadocia, Asia Minor, and Bithynia, by the kings of Syria, 1 Pet. i. 1. See the foregoing period, ver. 32—36.
On the last, and the great day of the feast, JESUS avowed himself to be THE CHRIST more explicitly, by applying to himself the prophetic invitation of CHRIST in Isaiah, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters," lv. 1, which was usually repeated by the priests on that day, when they drew water from the fountain of Shiloh, or with a Greek termination, Siloam, to be poured out as a libation to GOD, in the temple, for a memorial of the miraculous supply of water in the wilderness: for he said, “If any thirst, let him come unto me, [the true fountain of Siloam, Isai. viii. 6,] and drink;" adding, " He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow [streams] of living water; as saith the Scripture." This he said in allusion to the copious effusion of the HOLY SPIRIT on the first fruits of the Christian Church, at the ensuing Pentecost, after his ascension in glory, foretold by the Prophets, especially Joel, ii. 28, 29, and cited by Peter, Acts ii. 16, 18. Ver. 37-39.
The grace and dignity of his discourse, persuaded many of the people that He was indeed the prophet like Moses, whom they expected. Even the officers sent to apprehend him, were charmed; they could not execute their commission, and pleaded in excuse, before the council, never man spake like this man! ver. 40-49.
There was a schism, however, among the people, because he came from Galilee, and was supposed to have been born at Nazareth, whereas they contended that CHRIST was to be of the house of David, and born at Bethlehem, according to Micah's prophecy, ver. 2. Nor were they unanimous even in their council. Nicodemus boldly censured their proceedings, in condemning JESUS without trial, as illegal. But they reproached him with being a disciple of the Galilean, and even asserted that no prophet had arisen from Galilee; blinded by passion, and not recollecting Jonah. At this time, however, they broke up, without coming to any determination against him, ver. 43-53.
THE WOMAN TAKEN IN ADULTERY.
JESUS retired that evening to Bethany, where he lodged, and returned early next morning to the temple, and taught the people, who all assembled early to hear him. But he was soon